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Political Engagement as Intrinsic Good

Political Engagement as Intrinsic Good

Arendt and Company

(p.52) Chapter 3 Political Engagement as Intrinsic Good
Attention Deficit Democracy
Ben Berger
Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Hannah Arendt's views on the intrinsic value of political engagement as well as her attitude toward moral engagement. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's visionary political theory: her ideals of a free political realm, the politically engaged life, and the associated rewards of public freedom, public happiness, earthly immortality, and glory. It then considers Arendt's cautionary political theory: her warnings against the rampant materialism and deadly totalitarianism that threaten her ideals. It also explores Arendt's association of the social, marginalization, enslavement, and totalitarian domination with the concepts and metaphors of isolation, darkness, invisibility, bodily needs, and the eternal nothingness of oblivion. Finally, it points out some logical inconsistencies in Arendt's defense of political engagement as intrinsic good while acknowledging her many other insights on politics.

Keywords:   political engagement, Hannah Arendt, intrinsic value, intrinsic good, moral engagement, public freedom, materialism, totalitarianism, isolation, invisibility

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